More than just fantastic chocolate and Alpine views, although we aren’t denying that these are a serious perks, visiting Switzerland has a lot more to offer than this. When you think of Zurich you may think of high-flying businessmen and a fancy lifestyle, but there is so much more to Zurich than that. Zurich is full of rich history, arts, and culture, and no matter what kind of traveler you are, there is something that will take your fancy in Zurich for sure. (Even if it is eating the equivalent of your bodyweight in Lindt chocolate.) During our stay at Movenpick Zurich we had the chance to experience some of the best the city has to offer. Here are our Top Things to do in Zurich Switzerland.
Visit the Old Town
The Old Town of a city is usually one of the best parts to visit if you’re there as a tourist, and Zurich’s Old Town, or Altstadt in German, is no exception to that rule. Architecture in the Old Town ranges from medieval masterpieces to beautiful Renaissance buildings, making it a nice mix of different styles and stunning to stroll through. It’s divided up in four parts, Rathaus, Hochschulen, Lindenhof and City, and each of these have their signature famous landmarks which distinguish them from each other.
Visit the Botanical Gardens
The Old Botanical Gardens in Zurich (not to be confused with the Botanical Garden of the University of Zurich that is also in the city) are a beautiful way to spend an afternoon surrounded by greenery and nature in the city. The first botanical garden in Zurich was founded in the mid-18th century, and the gardens still prove very popular even all these years later. It is mainly used as a recreation area by most people, and the site also includes and arboretum and the Gessner-Garten, a medieval herb garden dedicated to Conrad Gessner, a Swiss naturalist.
See the Great Church or Grossmünster
The Great Church is a one of the greatest architectural icons of Zurich. Construction was completely at the beginning of the 13th century, making it far older than many buildings you’re used to finding if you live outside of Europe. The church includes two towers, and photos of these towers have turned into one of the most famous shots taken in Zurich by both locals and tourists alike.
The church is considered to have a Roman style to its architectural design, propped up by plenty of columns with flourishes at both ends like something you would find in Rome itself. In the early 20th century, stained glass windows and ornate bronze doors were added to the building, giving it a mix between ancient traditions and more modern trends.
Take a stroll down Bahnhofstrasse
If you fancy a bit of shopping, Bahnhofstrasse really is the very best street for it in Zurich. It’s not for the tight purse-stringed however, as it is famous for being the world’s most expensive shopping avenues – we are in Switzerland after all! The street is mainly pedestrianized, making it really enjoyable to walk down, but make sure you watch out for the trams which do pass down through this area. Not only is it a great place to shop (even if you are only window shopping!), there are numerous little cafes or parks where you can sit down and relax, watching the elite of Zurich stroll by.
Eat chocolate at the Lindt & Sprüngli Factory
Lindt chocolate is one of the most famous to come out of Switzerland, and just south of the center of Zurich you can go and visit a factory where the chocolate is made. Here you can discover the process of how the Swiss make this delicious kind of chocolate, and there are plenty of free samples along the way. The factory is free to visit, and includes a free movie screening as well, making it a very inexpensive day out and one filled with chocolate, which makes it feel like luxury anyway!
Enjoy the dazzling views of the lake
To the southeast of the city lies Lake Zurich, one of the most beautiful nature spots to visit during a stay in the city. There are many hotels and other styles of accommodation in this part of town, so you can either to opt to stay there or take a day to see this different side to the city. You can find outdoor swimming areas here, and for the more active among us, you can cycle or hike the entire circumference of the lake (but this will take a number of days as the route is around 115km long). However, if you’re up to the challenge and have the time, it’s a great way to see the natural beauty of the region and explore Zurich from a different mind-set.
Take a day trip to Interlaken
There’s nothing quite like taking a day trip out of a big city and breathing in some fresh air for a few hours, and you’ll find some of the freshest air on the planet just outside of Zurich, nestled away in the Alps. Around an hour and a half outside of Zurich is the little town of Interlaken, a spot surrounding by incredible lakes and stunning views of the Alps, which tower above the town. It’s a great spot to head out to for the day to enjoy outdoor activities or to relax and drink in the stunning scenery.
Visit James Joyce’s grave
Any literature buff in Zurich should not miss out on a visit to James Joyce’s grave here. Even though the author, most famous for writing epics such as ‘Ulysses’ and ‘Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man’, was originally from Ireland, he actually lived, worked, and eventually died in Zurich. You can find his grave in Fluntern Cemetery, which is adorned with a statue to commemorate his life and work.
Check out the Museum of Modern Art
Otherwise known as the Kunsthaus, Zurich’s museum of modern art houses an impressive collection of pieces from the middle ages to present day. Considered as one of the most important art museums in Switzerland and well up there on the same list in Europe, it’s a must-see for any art lover in Zurich. The collection includes some famous names such as Van Gogh, Rodin, and Monet, plus Swiss artists that you may not have heard of before.
These are just a few of the things that we think most people would benefit from seeing in Zurich, but depending on your personal taste there is so much more to see.
Do you have any other recommendations?